Protecting Your Online IP

Intellectual property (IP) are legal property rights over creations of the mind, both artistic, commercial, and the corresponding fields of law. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets. (WikiPedia)

If you have an innovative, brilliant Marketing campaign(s) or Strategy and you want to tell the world about them (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, conferences) you may want to think again. It’s called “competitive advantage” and you want to keep it “close to the cuff” as much as possible. Why? So your competitors won’t jump on your coattails and follow the same tactic. Why would you want to give out your marketing strategies? Ego perhaps, or to generate traffic to your blogs, corporate website or increase your Twitter following? Forget it. Again, think about your competitors and think about your sales or services business.

*This blog entry is for most companies or service oriented businesses and not necessarily for marketing blogs (like mine) that give out basic online marketing strategy.

Here are some important tips for making sure your ideas are preserved. I have only listed a few but there are many more safeguards that can be set up in the “process”:

  1. Create a policy. Establish a policy for all of your intellectual property – including all patents, logos, designs, trademarks, copyrights and domain names. Policy comes first. Give yourself a competitive advantage. Just because you think there’s no competition out there for your business, don’t use that as an argument not to spend the money to protect your idea.
  2. Keep all marketing strategy and reports under a “red cover” confidential. If the IP is printed on hard copy, always have a red cover sheet up front to remind everyone that this information is confidential. If you’re marketing strategy (or IP) is distributed by email or document files, make sure everyone one on your team knows and writes (sig file) “confidential”. Clearly label sensitive data as “confidential” (or put a “watermark” right on the document), and explicitly state this fact in your email. Perhaps go as far as hold a team/staff meeting and explain the fact that if ANY confidential strategy IP gets outside of the company, that person will be fired. It works for Steve Jobs. Example of setting up a confidential watermark in MS-Word below.

Watermark

  1. Copyright. Have you written an article, eBook, created a video or made a podcast? You’ll want copyright protection. Once you have created the work, you have the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform and display it.
  2. Trademark/Service mark. Got a logo or tagline you want to use? Look into trademark protection. Service marks provide the same protection for intangible things such as services.
  3. Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA). A common approach is to make sure that anyone you share the IP information………..signs a “non-disclosure agreement” (NDA) prior to your disclosure. Typical NDAs contractually obligate signatories to refrain from disclosing confidential information without the disclosing party’s express consent.
  4. If you have client newsletters or email blasts, do not go into details of your marketing strategy. Leave that for your face-to-face meetings.

With marketing strategy, be very guarded. Share your strategy on a need-to-know basis, and make sure everyone with access understands the importance of keeping this information confidential.

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